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Jamison Family Archive

Date range: 1826–1960s.

In 2008 the Library made a highly significant addition to its incomparable collection of papers of and relating to Elizabeth Gaskell, with the purchase of the archive of the Green and Jamison families.1

This remarkable collection of correspondence and other papers documents two generations of the Green family of Knutsford and their close friendship with the Reverend William and Mrs Elizabeth Gaskell and the Gaskells’ daughters.

The Reverend Henry Green (1801–73), minister of Brook Street Unitarian Chapel in Knutsford, Cheshire, was a trusted friend and colleague of William Gaskell. Henry’s wife Mary was also an intimate friend and correspondent of Elizabeth Gaskell, who described Mary as a friend ‘to open my mind to’. Both couples had four daughters of similar ages, who were in turn very close.

The youngest Green daughter, Isabella, married Dr Arthur Jamison in 1875, and the archive also includes material relating to the Jamisons and their descendants.

For Gaskell scholars the highlight of the archive is the thirteen substantial letters written by Elizabeth Gaskell herself to Mary Green and three letters to her daughter Isabella. The latter, like the rest of the archive, have never been published.

There are also numerous letters from Gaskell’s three daughters: seventeen from Florence, nine from Julia, and a single letter from Marianne. These lively letters are full of family news, discussions of social, cultural and political events, descriptions of mutual friends and reports on their daily lives.

The core of the archive comprises several hundred letters exchanged between members of the Green family over a fifty-year period. Some of this correspondence sheds important new light on the Gaskells, but the Greens also emerge as a family worthy of study in their own right.

There are numerous references to travel in Europe and further afield, politics and current affairs, social events, religion, art, literature, and the minutiae of everyday life that Elizabeth Gaskell captured so well in her novels.

As well as correspondence, there are diaries and travel journals, deeds, inventories and legal papers, memoirs, family pedigrees, manuscript lectures and sermons.

There is also a substantial number of letters sent to Evelyn Jamison (1877–1972), Tutor and Vice-Principal at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, and a University Lecturer in History.

The archive is of significant literary and historical interest, and an important new source for scholars interested in Elizabeth Gaskell and her circle, the history of Knutsford, the social and intellectual life of nineteenth-century Manchester, and nineteenth-century social history more generally. 

See also the Gaskell Manuscript Collection and the John Geoffrey Sharps Papers

1Purchase of the archive was generously funded by the MLA/V&A Purchase Fund, the Friends of the National Libraries, and the Friends of the John Rylands.

Finding aids

Unpublished preliminary box list.


The John Rylands Library

Using the reading rooms in the John Rylands Library

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